Monday, January 30, 2012

Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins - A True Texas Blues Legend

Sam Lightnin' Hopkins was born on March 15, 1912 in Centerville, TX. He passed away  on January 30, 1982 in Houston, Texas...

Lightnin’ Hopkins was a prolific songwriter whose lyrics chronicled life in the South, romantic turmoil, and bawdy sexual themes, Hopkins' vocals mixed a soulful voice with a talking blues style.

The young Hopkins' interest in blues music began at the early age of eight after meeting Texas blues legend Blind Lemon Jefferson. A few years later Hopkins would serve as the blind bluesman's guide and apprentice…
After a short stint at the Houston (TX) County Prison Farm, Hopkins was discovered in Houston by Lila Anne Cullum, a talent scout for Aladdin Records…Cullum offered the veteran bluesman the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles to record for the label.
In L.A. Hopkins was paired with pianist Wilson Smith; the pair were subsequently dubbed "Lightnin'" and "Thunder" by an Aladdin executive.
During his short tenure with Aladdin, Hopkins recorded a total of forty-three songs during two lengthy sessions in 1946 and '47. He would return to Houston, however, subsequently recording sides for the Gold Star label even while he was still signed to Aladdin, sometimes re-recording the same songs in Texas that he had waxed in California.

During his lengthy career, Hopkins recorded nearly 1,000 songs for some 20 different labels, making his discography one of the deepest and most complicated in blues music history

Following the success of his 1960 song "Mojo Hand,"
Hopkins went from playing back-alley dives in Houston to performing on the stage of Carnegie Hall alongside artists like Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. Throughout the 1960s and well into the '70s, Hopkins performed - usually solo - on college campuses, folk clubs, and coffee houses. Hopkins toured Europe as part of the American Folk Blues Festival in 1964 with Howlin' Wolf, and would later tour Japan during the late-1970s.
Hopkins' popularity with white audiences would grow during the 1960s, and by the end of the decade he was performing at rock festivals and in clubs with bands like the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane. Filmmaker Les Blank created his 1967 documentary, The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins about the bluesman. In 1968, Hopkins recorded Free Form Patterns backed by the rhythm section of the Texas psychedelic rock band the 13th Floor Elevators.
He was named #71 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980...
Houston-based Fast Cut Films, in association with Sunset Productions, is working on a documentary feature film, “Where Lightnin’ Strikes,” about the life and times of Houston blues legend Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins (1912-1982).        


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